It is now version 53.2.2
There will be no further changes unless someone spots a typo or gross editorial error.
The changes I made were pretty subtle, didn't change anything much on a macro scale.
* mention of german subs involved in battles with convoys during blockade of canaries
* correction made to U.S. fleet movement descriptions(previously I kep saying 'east' where I had meant west. The fleet movements should make more sense now
* Japanese aircraft operate out of Okinawa and Kyushu during battle of East China Sea
* U.S. land based aircraft are also involved during the battle of East China Sea
* Losses to U.S. task force during battle of East China Sea are a bit higher, and more fighters on both sides are downed
* Minsk has 150,000+ surviving soviet soldiers as of August 1st rather than 200,000+
* The Japanese attack on the U.S. task force on August 1st includes Japanese aircraft from out of Kyushu and does slightly more damage
* Battle of Northern Phillipine Sea changed very slightly. Reasoning behind Japanese fleet's 'death run' explained
* Destruction of remaining Japanese surface fleet changed slightly(Japanese plan to support the surface fleet with aircaft out of Kyushu disrupted by U.S. attacks on Kyushu air fields)
August 15, 2007
It is now version 53.2.2
Posted by Bobby Hardenbrook at 2:20 PM
August 06, 2007
As you can see below, Segment 53.2 is posted. Let me know what you think!
Also, I apologize regarding the board still being down. My brother has run into some difficulties in retrieving the backed up board data and this has slowed him down in bringing the board back up. I'll post here when I have more information. In the meantime we can continue to use the comments sections here on the main site.
Rest assured that the board will be back, its just taking longer than I expected to get it back up.
Posted by Bobby Hardenbrook at 9:52 PM
It was approaching 2:00 in the afternoon local time and the 500 B-31's flying high over the Pacific due east of Sakhalin Island stretched for miles and miles, formations of the huge bombers glinting in the bright sun like a string of pearls draped over the blue ocean below. Captain Dan Wood had been on nearly a dozen similar missions, but those had been to the south over Honshu and Kyushu. This was his first mission this far North, and from what intelligence had said he wasn't looking forward to what awaited him. This raid was the biggest attack launched against Japanese oil facilities on Sakhalin so far and it was also the first large daylight raid. But no one doubted that the Japanese were waiting for them.
"Look sharp everyone, we're getting to within range of Jap fighters" Dan said into the mike, glancing at his co-pilot with a slight nod. And, sure enough, a couple minutes later word came over the radio that Jap fighters were inbound. Dan's job here was easy, as far as piloting went. He stayed in the carefully maintained formation and kept a steady hand on the controls. The hard part was the waiting, and he shared another tense look with the co-pilot. Then he spotted two enemy fighters, moving in from the northeast.
"We've got two Jap fighters at out three O'clock!" Dan said calmly, letting his gunners know what was what. Ten seconds later the gunners started hammering away, their 20mm shells lancing out to wipe the enemy out of the sky. Tracers arced out from his own bomber and dozens of others in the immediate vicinity. One of the Jap fighters exploded in a spectacular fireball and the propeller driven interceptor smeared out into a black and orange smudge against an otherwise clear sky. The other Jap fighter made it into the formation, and a moment later a B-31 dropped out trailing smoke and flame from two engines. Dan hoped the poor bastards on the stricken bomber made it back to the Marianas. For its part, the Japanese fighter was nowhere to be seen.
More minutes passed and eventually word got around that the Japanese fighters were moving off to the west back to their air fields. Nearly a dozen B-31's had been downed, and nearly as many forced to turn back. The massive bomber formation lumbered ahead, and Dan and everyone else in the raid kept a weary watch.
"Well, we've seen worse" John, his co-pilot, said hopefully. Dan winced inwardly, hoping his co-pilot hadn't just cursed them. You learned to get superstitious like that after commanding a bomber on a dozen or so missions over Japan. As if to strengthen his growing superstition, his fears were soon confirmed.
"Darts, we've got darts!" a voice screamed over the radio.
"Shit" Dan muttered, then relayed the warning to his gunners. U.S. Air crews had taken to calling the Japanese jet interceptors darts due to their high speed and slick profile. They were bad news for the lumbering and unescorted B-31's. He'd encountered the darts twice, and both times he'd thanked Jesus upon landing safely back at base. More than a few B-31's hadn't been so lucky. His gunners hammered away as a dart streaked in, lines of tracers crisscrossed through the sky; they all missed. Seconds later a B-31 was spiraling towards the ocean below, trailing smoke, flame, and a couple of parachutes. Minutes later another dart came at his part of the formation and for a horrifying moment Dan was sure the Japanese jet was heading directly for him. Instead it bore down on a B-31 to his left and sent explosive rounds into its fuselage. Another B-31 tumbled out of the sky but this time the lines of tracers met upon the dart and exacted revenge, wiping the sleek jet out of the air.
News from around the air armada wasn't good. Another dozen bombers had been downed, and more forced to turn around and withdraw. The 500 bomber raid was now a 460,or so, bomber raid. Ahead, land came into view. Sakhalin. Now came the flack. The Japanese had apparently arranged every flak cannon in the world in and around Nogliki to defend the oil infrastructure in the area. Black puffs of smoke erupted around the huge bomber formation, in their thousands, and every one seemed aimed directly for him. Occasionally bits of shrapnel clanked off the fuselage, and Dan prayed none of those bits got too big. When the lead bombers began dropping their bombs, he breathed a heavy sigh of relief. Not long after his own bomber lifted into the air as the bomb bays emptied and his ungainly bomber suddenly weighed quite a bit less.
Soon the formation was wheeling north and east to make for home, and Dan saw in satisfaction that massive plumes of smoke were rising into the air - birthed by what appeared to be dozens of raging fires. Later recon missions would judge better than him, but to Dan it sure looked like they'd done a lot of damage.
"Don't let your guard down guys, they're likely to hit us as we leave. They can't be happy down there" Dan said, not that he thought his men would really ease up. And they didn't have to wait long. Not more than a minute after he'd voiced the warning something streaked into the formation from what seemed to be directly below and a bomber not far to Dan's right in the formation was rolling over and falling like a stone, its left wing falling away separate from the fuselage.
"What the hell was that?" John said, looking around in all directions. Similar questions, some not quite so delicate, came over the radio. Several more bombers got struck out of the sky not too much later, again proceeded by something streaking up from directly under the formation. Whatever the Japs were throwing at them, they stopped coming after the formation had gotten out over the Ocean a ways. So, the Japs had something new eh? Dan wished he could strangle the intelligence officer who he was sure hadn't mentioned anything about a new Japanese anti-bomber weapon. Gripping his controls and willing the formation on, Dan set his teeth and resigned himself to some nasty missions in the future. The bright flash that washed over the cockpit a couple minutes later brought him out of his funk. A flash like that could only mean that the Japs had just caught hell somewhere back on Sakhalin. That made Dan and his co-pilot feel a bit better.
July 16th 1949
In a large daylight raid, some 500 U.S. B-31 bombers strike Japanese oil infrastructure in and around Nogliki on Sakhalin Island, causing moderate to heavy damage to the facilities in that area. U.S. bomber losses are heavy, with some 40 bombers downed and more damaged. The raid see's the first Japanese use of their new anti-bomber rocket interceptor, a small rocket powered aircraft capable of short but rapid ascents into the midst of bomber formations where it then rams enemy bombers. They are essentially human-guided anti-aircraft rockets and turn out to be fairly effective against B-31's although most of them miss their targets and end up gliding back home.
However, the new rocket-interceptors are far less effective against the faster and higher flying B-34's and the B-34 raid that strikes Okha, on the northern tip of Sakhalin, only suffers one bomber downed out of 24 aircraft. The rest drop high explosives on the town, except for one B-34 which instead drops a 40 kiloton atomic bomb. The atom bomb air bursts directly over the town of Okha, virtually wiping it off the map and doing massive damage to the oil producing and transporting infrastructure there. The fires of Okha will burn for weeks. Japanese oil production on Sakhalin has been a dealt a stunning blow.
Off the east coast of the Americas, German submarines have inflicted significant losses to Alliance and neutral shipping but aggressive anti-submarine sweeps by U.S. and Brazilian naval forces have inflicted sharp losses to the German submarine fleet in these coastal waters. The Kriegsmarine, determined to make the Atlantic a death zone for Alliance shipping, begins redeploying German submarines into the shipping lanes of the mid and Northern Atlantic. Many of the German and Italian submarines involved in running battles with convoys throughout the blockade of the Canary islands will remain in place, in hopes of slowing the Alliance build up there.
July 17th 1949
Columns of Nationalist Chinese troops entering northeast China to assume control are attacked and repelled by organized communist Chinese infantry in heavy fighting over the past two days. The communist Chinese forces are poorly equipped but fanatical and well organized. Nationalist forces, surprised by the ferocity and coordination of the communist forces, begin massing for a more vigorous offensive into northeastern China.The Chinese civil war is underway.
July 20th 1949
The U.S. 7th fleet, steaming northwest towards Iwo Jima, has grabbed the attention of the Japanese who are rapidly assembling their remaining combined fleet for what they hope will be an epic battle. The 7th fleet has some 7 fleet carriers and a slow battle line the likes of which the world has never seen, with numerous massive battleships and cruisers. The Japanese combined fleet remains dangerous with 4 carriers and a battle line with about half the strength of the U.S. battle line. In addition, the island of Iwo Jima has been turned into a massive fortress and many dozens of K-24 kamikaze rocket-bombs stand ready to launch from special hardened launch stands while some conventional aircraft are based out of the bustling airfield.
July 21st 1949
Southwest of Leningrad German forces continue to push ahead, surrounding strong points where they encounter them and leveraging their growing air superiority to limit Soviet mobility and bombard Soviet forces wherever they concentrate to make a stand. Pskov has already been surrounded and is being relentlessly shelled. The Red Army, for its part, is falling back eastward towards the defenses outside Leningrad and Novgorod.
In Minsk, Red Army forces have been pushed deeper into the city, and nerve gas attacks are coming in nearly around the clock. To the east, German forces are hammering at the Soviet defenses west of Smolensk and suffering heavy losses for little gain. Soviet forces defending Smolensk are well positioned, well equipped with anti-tank weaponry, and dug in deep; what air strength the Soviets have left in the north has been concentrated here, making Luftwaffe attempts to control the skies very costly. The battle for Smolensk is rapidly becoming a cauldron of blood and destruction for the German Army.
July 23rd 1949
With the U.S. 7th fleet about 200 kilometers south of Iwo Jima, the U.S. puts plans for its ambitious operation Torch Light into effect. Early in the morning, U.S. B-34 bombers appear over Iwo Jima. Having been unchallenged by Japanese defenses, one of the bombers drops a 40 kiloton atomic bomb on the island. Fused for a ground burst, the atomic bomb explodes almost exactly in the center of the island, wiping out a large area of Japanese fortifications, destroying the island's air field, and throwing vast amounts of radioactive dust and fine ash all over the island. The extensive Japanese fortifications, designed with air burst atomic attacks in mind, prove ineffective against ground bursts. Japanese aircraft, having taken off to avoid a potential atomic strike from the incoming B-34's, flee to Okinawa. For the Japanese garrison on the stricken island, radioactive contamination is now a death sentence.
To the south, the U.S. 7th fleet shifts it course to a more northwesterly direction. At nearly the same time, a powerful U.S. naval task force begins steaming northeast from out of the Philippines. This task force, itself nearly half the size of the U.S. 7th fleet and including many troop carriers stuffed full of marines, is the second pincer in a vast envelopment maneuver being executed by the USN. The Japanese combined fleet, unaware of the U.S. task force steaming from the Philippines, continues to linger north of Iwo Jima in a highly dispersed formation designed to mitigate the effects of an atomic attack on the fleet. Their plan is to wait until the U.S. fleet approaches Iwo Jima and to then launch a ferocious conventional and kamikaze strike on the vulnerable U.S. troop transports and supply vessels. They don't yet realize that the 7th fleet is no longer approaching Iwo Jima or that another task force is heading from the Philippines directly towards Okinawa.
July 25th 1949
A Japanese submarine spots the 7th fleet well west of Iwo Jima, and steaming northwest. Realizing that the true target must be Okinawa, the Japanese combined fleet begins steaming northwest at flank speed. The Japanese Navy believes the U.S. has made a huge mistake and that the Japanese combined fleet may be able to combine with land based air forces out of Okinawa to inflict crippling losses on the U.S. fleet. However, they remain unaware that another U.S. task force is approaching Okinawa. On Iwo Jima itself most of the Japanese garrison not killed outright in the atomic explosion is either dead or dying from radiation poisoning, turning the island fortress into an island mausoleum.
July 27th 1949
Japanese observation aircraft flying out of Okinawa spot a large U.S. task force moving to the west of Okinawa proper, throwing commanders there into a panic. They have been preparing to meet the massive U.S. 7th fleet in the waters to the south or east, and now a second large force has been observed to the west. After a frantic series of exchanges with the high command back in the home islands, Japanese air forces on Okinawa and Kyushu are ordered to strike the U.S. force moving in from the west.
In northeast China, Nationalist forces backed by U.S. tactical air support begin a broad offensive into the communist held region in northeast China. Despite bitter communist resistance the Nationalist forces make steady progress. The communist forces, with little in the way of heavy weaponry and no air power, have no choice but to withdraw, making stands wherever the terrain is favorable. This fighting is ugly, with neither side taking prisoners or showing any mercy.
July 28th 1949
The Battle of the East China Sea begins as Japanese aircraft attack the large U.S. task force moving in from the west of Okinawa. Japanese propeller and jet fighters from Okinawa and Kyushu tear into a swarm of U.S. carrier jets and land-based long range propeller fighters, engaging in an epic air clash in which some 200 Japanese fighters are downed in exchange for roughly 70 U.S. fighters. While the fighters engage in their huge fur ball, the Japanese launch a two-pronged assault on the U.S. task force itself. Several waves of aging, conventional, Japanese bombers of all types attack the four carriers in the task force and the surrounding ships, while medium and heavy bombers drop nearly 100 K-24 kamikaze rocket bombs. The conventional Japanese bombers manage to inflict only moderate damage on one carrier, several destroyers, and a couple of cruisers while losing nearly half their number, but the K-24's are more successful. Of the 91 K-24's successfully deployed against the U.S. task force, 21 find a target while the rest either malfunction, miss their targets, or are shot down by flak and enemy jet fighters. The 21 kamikaze rocket-bombs which do find a target inflict serious losses on the U.S. task force - crippling a fleet carrier, sinking a troop transport with the loss of all hands including thousands of Marines, as well as sinking six supply ships and three destroyers.
Several hours after the air clashes and attacks on the U.S. task force, a B-34 squadron passes over Okinawa and drops two atomic bombs. Both 40 kiloton devices are air burst over Okinawa's largest air fields where most of the Japanese aircraft based out of Okinawa that survived the Battle of the East China Sea are wiped out along with the air fields themselves and surrounding depots and troop concentrations.
August 1st 1949
Pskov falls to German forces, and leading German elements have advanced to within twenty five kilometers of Leningrad and to within forty kilometers of Novgorod. Soviet defenses have finally begun to firm, on a line from Leningrad south to Novgorod and from there down to Smolensk. In Minsk the remaining 150,000+ Red Army troops continue to hold out despite supplies that are now dwindling. Anxious to reduce Minsk once and for all, German infantry have begun to press hard into Minsk proper despite the resulting heavy losses.
After several days of air attacks on coastal gun batteries, troop concentrations, and air facilities all around Okinawa not wiped out in the two atomic bombings, U.S. marines come ashore on the central part of Okinawa. The landings, preceded by massive conventional, napalm, and mustard gas bombardments on the landing areas by air forces and cruisers off shore, succeed in securing several strong beach heads although Japanese resistance is fierce. In the mid-afternoon hours Japanese forces surprise the U.S. task force with several successive waves of Kamikaze attacks accompanied by a conventional air attack from aircraft out of Kyushu. While the conventional attack accomplishes little while getting cut to pieces by U.S. fighters, the K-24 kamikaze rocket-bombs, launched from hardened stands around the northern part of the island, streak into the U.S. task force in the waters off the island, sinking two more supply ships and sinking or damaging several cruisers and destroyers.
August 2nd 1949
In its last major engagement of the Second World War, the Japanese Navy's combined fleet engages the U.S. 7th fleet several hundred kilometers southeast of Okinawa in the Battle of the Northern Philippine Sea.
After both fleets attempt to maneuver to gain advantage, the battle begins with both sides launching large carrier attack forces. The Japanese aircraft, the last fleet air strength that the Japanese possess, are heavily outnumbered and largely cut to pieces by American carrier fighters. The few Japanese bombers that make it through are relatively ineffectual, only moderately damaging several ships and sinking a destroyer. The American carrier attack is devastatingly effective, cutting through a vastly out-numbered Japanese carrier fighter force to sink all four remaining Japanese fleet carriers and several lesser ships as well. The surface portion of the Japanese fleet, short on fuel on having little hope of ever fully refuelling, continues to steam northwest in vain pursuit of the 7th fleet in a desperate hope that they can close and, in combination with Japanese air forces, inflict significant damage in a final suicidal charge. It is the death run of the last great Japanese naval battle line.
After a series of small but persistent bombings on British military units and diplomatic facilities across Egypt, following the earlier large bombing of the British Embassy, tensions have ratcheted to new levels in the troubled British ally. In Alexandria, Cairo, and other Egyptian cities the Muslim Brotherhood and the Nationalist Islamic Movement have called on the "apostates" and "British puppet government" to expel the British and declare neutrality in the ongoing war. The crack down by British forces and the Egyptian government has clamped down even tighter, and there are whispers of revolution on the streets. Although the upper classes mostly back the British and the economic growth they have brought, the feeling on the "Arab street" is decidedly anti-western and anti-British in particular. The Army is mostly pro-British as well, but it is also nationalist to a degree and radical Islam has been seeping in for the past few years.
August 3rd 1949
With U.S. heavy bombers hammering air fields and strategic sites around Kyushu, the Japanese are unable to launch their planned land-based air attack on the 7th fleet. As a result, southeast of Okinawa swarming U.S. carrier aircraft sink virtually the entire remaining Japanese combined fleet, including all the remaining battleships. The pathetic remnants of the Japanese surface fleet have no choice but to turn towards the Home Islands where they may be used for scrap metal or incorporated into coastal defenses. The grand U.S. feint towards Iwo Jima and the pincer movement on Okinawa has been a brilliant success for the USN despite heavy losses to kamikaze rockets off the coast of Okinawa, throwing the carefully crafted Japanese "decisive battle" plans into chaos and forcing them to fight on the USN's terms. In a week of fighting, despite a bitter last stand, the remaining strength of the Japanese navy has been destroyed;Iwo Jima has been turned into a island of the dead, of little use to anyone; and Okinawa has been blockaded, invaded, and most of its air power destroyed. In the coming weeks U.S. sailors will call this week "The Huge Pacific Week" and the Battle of the Northern Philippine Sea will go down as among the most lopsided in naval history.
In Italy the aircraft carrier Aquila is launched and enters official service; she carries 75 aircraft and can make 30 knots. Still reeling from the disastrous campaign in the Atlantic, the Italian navy is licking its wounds and organizing itself to hold the western and central Mediterranean which it still dominates. The U.S., for its part, continues to mass forces on the Canary Islands and the SBC is rapidly expanding and upgrading an existing air field to support B-34 operations. This buildup has been hindered to a degree by a series of volcanic eruptions on the islands, but undaunted by the forces of nature the U.S. buildup continues.
To Be Continued in Segment 53.3...
Posted by Bobby Hardenbrook at 9:51 PM